On this blog, I write a great deal about the importance of editing, using proper grammar, and fine tuning your writing skills. I suggest advice and resources without ever pin pointing any real academic options for how to improve your writing abilities. I came across an awesome academic writing option in early June that I have been meaning to share with you.
Murray State’s MFA program in Kentucky is offering a free community writing workshop this summer on July 11th and July 12th. Julia Watts is the faculty member responsible for the workshop and explains that the goal is to “generate work and spark ideas to develop stories.” Any time you are given an opportunity to get out and learn from someone who has ‘been there,’ Watts has authored thirteen novels, you take it. I think the deadline to sign up for the workshop (if you happen to live in or be in the area) has already passed (but, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try). Despite the passing deadline, there still is a lot we can learn from something like this.
One, many opportunities like this exist all over the world. Do some research and find out what writing resources are available in your area. The value of getting out there and talking and working with other writers (even just once or twice a year) is priceless.
Second, you can listen to Watts talk about her workshop, it’s goals, and process, through the interview clip in the article. Maybe you can get some of your writer friends together and do your own workshop. Or perhaps you are more adventurous and want to try hosting a larger writing workshop in your own area. If you can’t find a workshop that works for you, build one- if you build it, they will come.
Lastly, Watts highlights the importance of many things I talk about right here on my blog- maybe I am not talking senseless gibberish after all. Watts points out that many people have great ideas for beginnings and endings to their books, but find it hard to finish the work and add the “in-between” stuff. She recommends, yet again, writing down all the thoughts and ideas that come into your head. Just sit down and write what you are feeling in that moment, even if you know you will likely end up throwing it all away. As Watts says, every first draft is imperfect- that’s what the editing process is for. But first, you need to get your words on paper.
Watts also teaches the importance of writers supporting other writers, which is really great to hear. We need to learn how to support each other, instead of tearing each other down. We need to be able to objectively look at our fellow peers writing and evaluate, continually improving their writing and our own. Watts also recommends having an editor look at your work, even if you are self-publishing. Polished work should not be underestimated.
As writers, we should always be learning, evolving, and helping. Write on.